Partway through January, we finally returned from our Christmas odyssey, the semester began, and the blows just kept coming. It was a cold. Then a stomach bug, that followed so closely that it took awhile for us to ID it until we inadvertently infected our small group. As we recovered from the bug, another cold knocked us down, and once we ventured out, Pip showed up after co op one Friday, feverish and weepy, and we started the strep fight.
None of it has been that severe — many of our friends have had it much worse — but the dull unending cycle has taken its toll. I complained to a friend that I felt like Beret in Giants in the Earth, isolated and slowly deteriorating. It’s melodramatic, I know: instead of a sod hut I’m quarantined in a properly heated house with internet, stacks of books, and a short commute to Target where I can sequester my sickies in the cart and walk slooooooowly down the aisles, but still.
All plans for the month have been conditional, and more often derailed than kept. There’s been more TV than I can feel entirely good about, takeout dinners when the grownups were too sick or exhausted to cook, and lots of missed days of preschool.
But something wonderful has come out of these long, odious weeks: Quiet Month.
One Saturday morning, Scout and I bundled up, I loaded the stroller with a precarious package, and we walked to the UPS store. The friendly employee there asked, naturally enough, what our plans were for the weekend. And…those were our plans. A walk to the UPS store.
We came home and rested and read and cleaned and that was about it.
A lot of our weekends recently have been like that, and that’s pretty different from our usual weekend template. I wouldn’t say we are terribly over scheduled, but we like to see friends and feed them, and we often have something on the calendar for each weekend day.
Not having those plans has felt different, but good. I miss my friends terribly as we update each other by text on our progeny’s maladies but I haven’t hated having nothing much to do. The house has slowly gotten cleaner, despite the catastrophic cleaning projects that follow intestinal illness. In January I read 9 books — more than twice my average — because I had whole days lying inert in bed, and because Pippin, cooped up and feeling lousy, developed an insatiable Ramona habit. I’ve spent long, sunlit afternoons cuddling unusually snuggly children, and felt with new appreciation the strength of my rickety little body on the cold, dark mornings I’ve managed to get out for a run between illnesses.
I’m excited for the health and new mobility that will come with spring. The irises I planted last fall are starting to poke their way out of the front garden bed, and I note their progress with gratitude as I haul a 12-pack of lotion Kleenex up the porch steps. I will be glad for spring, but this little pause in our seasons — it isn’t all bad.